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mother’s grave, in the graveyard attached to St.Patrick’s Church in Bandon sometime in the 1940s or 1950s and she was buried in that grave when she died in 1963.

Sarah O’Brien – widowed with ten children - 1915 When John O’Brien died in 1915, Sarah was faced with the challenge of rearing a family of ten, ranging from 19 years of age down to a year old. There was no social welfare in those days so Sarah had to turn her hand to whatever work she could find, in order to earn a living. She was a proficient needlewoman so she started sewing and dressmaking, and was particularly good at making curtains and loose covers for sofas and armchairs. She later talked about the kindness of the Church of Ireland Rector who employed her to re-cover the kneelers in the Church, and through this work, she became known to the wealthier Protestant families of Bandon who employed her to make curtains and loose covers in their homes. She was also an amateur midwife and at times, she helped to lay out the dead. She nursed patients who were dying of tuberculosis in their own homes and disinfected and whitewashed their houses (with lime) after they died. She was not afraid of nursing patients with contagious illnesses as she believed that her prolific use of snuff protected her against virulent germs. Her favourite snuff was Clark’s High Toast snuff which she used all her life. Sarah O’Brien was actively involved in the War of Independence and in the Civil War (1921-1922). She was fearless and indomitable (in spite of being responsible for her family of ten) and she later described how she carried guns under her Bandon cloak for the local IRA insurgents and provided shelter for men on the run. She described how she made and dressed dolls in the Irish colours of green, white and orange and she (provocatively) put them in the front window when she knew the Black and Tans would be passing by. Her daughter Peggy recalled that when she (Peggy) was five or six years of age, the family had to vacate their house and spend a few nights in Bandon Workhouse for their own safety, because the Black and Tans had threatened to burn down their house on St. Patrick’s Hill. Sarah O’Brien was passionately pro-Treaty, and after 1921, she played an active role in the Civil War, supporting Michael Collins and his followers, including carrying guns when required. She was devastated by the murder of Michael Collins in Béal na Bláth and spoke bitterly for the rest of her life about his assassins. Towards the end of her life, she had convinced herself that she had personally witnessed his murder and she had no hesitation in naming the individual whom she alleged had pulled the trigger. The charismatic personality of Michael Collins, and his popularity with women, could not have been more forcefully demonstrated than by Sarah O’Brien – a widowed mother of

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Profile for DesignTactics

O'Briens of Bandon - 1875 to 2013  

This is the story of the family of John and Sarah O’Brien of Bandon, Co. Cork, Ireland, and their descendants. They had eleven children and...

O'Briens of Bandon - 1875 to 2013  

This is the story of the family of John and Sarah O’Brien of Bandon, Co. Cork, Ireland, and their descendants. They had eleven children and...